Underground Railroad Code: fact or fiction?

Underground Railroad Code: fact or fiction?

Presented by quilter, Micki Angyal. 

On Feb 19, 2020, forty five people attended Micki Angyal’s presentation about the quilt code possibly used by slaves to communicate along the Underground Railroad. Stories have been handed down the generations about the code but there is no hard historical evidence. Of course, it was a SECRET code, so the lack of evidence is no surprise.

After the U.S. Congress passed the Compromise of 1850, the law forced free northern states to return escaped slaves.  Conductors like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass led many escapees to Canada. The journey north was not easy. Secrecy was necessary for escape and information could only be passed by word of mouth, using codes, signs and signals created by slaves. One such code was using quilts.  Various blocks in the quilts gave the slaves clues as to where they had to go.

Stan Grizzle, our 2019 Black History Monthpresenter attended and he recalls his grandmother telling stories about the quilts being used to communicate.  

Mary Simpson told the group about the Damascas Ontario 4-H Life Skills Club up in Wellingtown County.  In 2015, the 4-H members painted a series of 4X4 barn quilts depicting the coded designs Micki told us about. 

English Teacher Lonnie Grover from Glencoe & District Historical Society shared the creative project  she teaches with a fellow Mathematics teacher using barn quilts as an inspiring theme for learning.